Featured New Story: Clara by Faith Cotter- Author: Susan Helene Gottfried
What was it? Last week that I put out a call for reviewers for my buddy Faith Cotter’s new short works. As I said then, Faith is a buddy from the Boy Scouts, a woman I bonded with over writing, archery, and the difficulties of being a female Boy Scout. She’s good people, and I’m proud to know her.
And as I said, I’m pleased as anything that she’s joining us in the publishing world. Be good to her. Buy her stuff. Read it, leave a few words of review. Or contact her for a review copy.
Remember, reviews help sell books.
So… off the soapbox and onto the important stuff.
Faith, what song makes you think of your story?
I first heard “Blinding” three years ago and the minute I heard it and really dug into the lyrics, I knew that there was something about this song that was very strongly connected to what I write about—the ghost that haunts all my stories, if you will.
Though Clara is a fictional, it is inspired by the first elementary school I attended, with its dark hallways and ornate staircases and nuns in old-fashioned habits. Writing this story was the first time I realized that my memory, as tangible as those years are even now, could play tricks on me. (I was utterly convinced we had a series of taxidermied animals on the way to the principal’s office and I was fascinated by them: a bit of decay amongst people with so much time ahead of them. Old classmates, now grown up, say otherwise.)
As for the story itself, and how it connects with this song: Yes, this is a story about two young girls. But I know that if I am going to write a story that centers around children, there needs to be something else there, something that children can see and something that old folk like me (aka adults) can see as well. I wrote Clara as a story heavy with familiar and unfamiliar motifs and themes in the hope that different readers will interpret those themes differently, based on their lived experiences. For some, it will be political; for others, maybe they will feel nostalgic. For me, this story is really about waking up. It’s about shaking off sleep and standing up and taking off. And through the use of the song’s motifs and archetypes as familiar to us as our childhood school days, “Blinding” encapsulates Clara so well. And that’s all I want to say about it.
The rest, reader, is up to you.
So… if Faith is old, what does that make me? Decrepit?
Ahh… well, on to the book description:
Catholic school kid Clara Cooper wants to go home. She has some unfinished business to attend to, and really needs God to give her attempt at truancy a bit of heavenly aid. When she fails to convince the nurses, the principal, and her mama that she is sick enough to leave school, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Over the course of her small adventure, she makes friends with an old bear and fellow truant Nhi Nguyen, and discovers that there are lessons that can never be taught within the confines of the towering school that makes up her world.
It reminds me of my own Mannequin… a young girl, learning lessons of life. Pick both stories up and see what you think. Do they compare?
Here’s the buy links:
(more retailers to follow!)